Today we have a wonderful treat. Naomi Jackson is here to tell us a little bit about here and her new book, Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are. Naomi writes children’s books and I am really excited to learn more! Hello, Naomi Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.
Hello! I’m Naomi Jackson! I live in southern Florida with my parents, three sisters, two cats, and fourteen houseplants. I was homeschooled along with my siblings, which means I grew up having lots of opportunities to experience and learn about interesting things. Some of my favorite memories are of our unit studies, where we would come at a time in history from every angle. We would read books, draw pictures, create sculptors, and of course write!
After I graduated high school, I went to the Bill Rice Bible Institute, where I studied Bible and Children’s Ministry. Now I spend a lot of time going to the library, running around barefoot outside, and writing endless books. Oh, and reading and watching Death in Paradise and eating dark chocolate are also high on my list of preferred activities!
What’s your favorite genre to read and write?
I write children’s fantasy! But I also tend to be very picky when it comes to what I like and what I don’t—I’m really a nightmare of a reader because I gripe about every flaw! Because of that, I tend to read mostly non-fiction when I want to just relax and learn. On the positive side, though, when I find a children’s book I love, I’m its biggest fan and champion!
What made you start writing this genre? What age did you realize you loved books?
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis! I read all seven books the month I turned ten, and from that moment on I knew I wanted to write books with amazing worlds. Ten was about the same age I became a book piranha (my dad’s nickname for me!). I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on, from Winnie the Pooh to The Art of War.
Who is your favorite author?
I love CS Lewis, obviously, but I also have a deep admiration for Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, EB White, and Kenneth Grahame.
Tell us about this book. What did you learn about yourself through writing it?
Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are is a story about a girl named Mavis who is very sick, and her brother, Roger, who is very worried about her. Mavis is desperately tired of being bedridden, so she makes a wish that she could go on an adventure. Well, someone grants Mavis’ wish by giving her a ticket to a magical train to a place called Otherworld! It’s a very sweet story, maybe a little sad, about the love that family has for one another and how unexpected things can bring hope into our lives. And about a beautiful world—I really enjoyed creating Otherworld and filling it full of gorgeous places and people.
I learned so much about myself writing this book—I hardly know where to start! I was bedridden when I was the same age as Mavis is in the story, so a lot of this comes from my own experience. Writing the story ended up being very emotional for me, as I dealt with a lot of the grief and fear that my sisters and I had had to deal with. But it was also very healing, and I think that comes through in the story.
Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?
I hate outlines! Ha! I really just gather a collection of scenes—like little clips from a movie that only plays in my head—and then I start writing and I don’t stop until the story is done.
Is there a special place you like to write?
I like to write in bed, propped up with pillows, one of my cats at my feet. It started back when I was bedridden, but even now that I’m better, I find I write best when I’m all comfy. Of course, that’s my ideal place to write. In practice, I do a lot of my writing sitting on the couch while my family swirls about me loud with life. It’s harder to concentrate, but it’s very rewarding!
What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?
I really didn’t expect the ending—Roger does something very brave and yet very foolish, and it really took my breath away. (I can’t say anything else about it without spoiling the ending! Sorry!)
What character do you like best?
Mavis will always have a soft spot in my heart, but I have to admit I like Roger best. *looks over shoulder to make sure other characters didn’t hear her*
What advice would you give a new author?
Be careful who you take advice from! There is a lot of bad advice out there, and there is a lot of good advice that is applied badly. Try to find an author that writes in the same genre that you want to write—nonfiction and fiction are nothing alike, and even different types of fiction have only a passing resemblance to each other. If you’re going to learn from someone, you need to make sure they know what you want to know.
Other than that, read as much as you can, write as much as you can!
What project are you working on now?
Oh, I both love this question and hate it! Mainly because I have SO MANY projects right now. I try not to limit myself in the early stages of writing, so I end up starting a lot of things, only to have one project break away from the pack and become my sole focus.
One thing I do know—Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are is going to have a sequel! I’ve also been writing some short stories about people and places from Otherworld. They’re going up on the blog in the coming months!
Where can we find your writing?
You can find my short stories on my website, naomijacksonwrites.com